Business

Atlantic Medical to hosts Fun Run Walk
Atlantic Medical to hosts Fun Run Walk

April 20, 2017

"Atlantic Medical has been the premier Fun Run Walk event in The Bahamas," and according to Anastasia Francis, Director of Operation, "this year promises to be no different...

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Castrol Quote of the Day: April 20, 2017
Castrol Quote of the Day: April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017

Castrol Quote of the Day: April 20, 2017

Symptoms of sludge:
-Higher fuel consumption
-Decreased Engine Power
-Low oil pressure

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TRIBUNE EXCLUSIVE: Fitzgerald sought millions from Baha Mar
TRIBUNE EXCLUSIVE: Fitzgerald sought millions from Baha Mar

April 20, 2017

EMAILS leaked from a data breach of China Construction America's (CCA) servers show that from as early as 2013, Jerome Fitzgerald was seeking to secure millions of dollars in brokerage, trucking, and limousine contracts at Baha Mar while he sat in Cabinet as the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, The Tribune has learned...

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Halkitis: No credit bureau under current administration

April 19, 2017

The long-awaited legislation to establish The Bahamas' first credit bureau will not be tabled until after the general election, possibly by a new administration.
Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis assured, however, that the legislation is completed and ready to go.
The Christie administration was expected to table the legislation in Parliament earlier this year. In February 2015, former Governor of the Central Bank Wendy Craigg said she expected the legislation to be passed by September of that year.
With non-performing loans (NPLs) totaling $731.3 million as of January 2017, the case for an established credit bureau continues to strengthen.
The project is expected to kick off by the end of this year and credit reports should start to be issued.
Halkitis admitted, however, that the government ran into a "few other delays" that did not allow for the legislation to be tabled. One of those delays was allegedly due to a setback with one of the international consultants on the project.
"What we know is that the legislation is complete and unfortunately this is one of those things we were working on for a number of years, undergoing consultation and revisions of the draft," said Halkitis.
"Unfortunately we got to the point where we didn't have an opportunity to put it on the table of the House.
"The consultation process is complete, so it is left to a subsequent administration to table it.
"But the fact that it took so long to complete is because we wanted to do a thorough consultation with stakeholders."
Industry stakeholders continue to be cognizant of the impact that the absence of a credit bureau has on The Bahamas' mortgage crisis.
Managing Director of RBC FINCO Franchon Braynen said in the bank's 2016 annual report: "Our mortgage lending business in The Bahamas continues to be challenged by deteriorating economic conditions, strong competitive pressures, the impact of Hurricane Matthew, a higher level of household indebtedness, the absence of a credit bureau and potential uncertainty associated with the proposed Homeowners Protection Bill."
Other industry officials such as current Governor of the Central Bank John Rolle noted that the infrastructure for establishing a credit bureau is expected to cost "a few millions".
"It's going to pay for itself because they will charge people to use the information," said Rolle.
He added that the most costly part would probably be operating and maintaining it.

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Baha Mar boosting interest in Cable Beach real estate, says C.A. Christie

April 19, 2017

The anticipated soft opening of Baha Mar tomorrow appears to have boosted rentals in the vicinity of the $4.2 billion mega-resort and its opening is expected to have a significant impact on the Bahamian real estate market going forward, said President of C.A. Christie Real Estate Charles Christie.
In an interview with Guardian Business yesterday, Christie pointed out that people have started to show an interest in buying properties in Cable Beach and the general area around Baha Mar.
He contended that the opening of the resort would be significant to the real estate market.
Christie said that his company would be releasing a video next week Tuesday on the benefits of Baha Mar as it relates to The Bahamas' real estate market.
Baha Mar's soft opening is tomorrow and the resort has managed to reach its quota of 1,500 staff members.
Outside of Baha Mar, Christie said the real estate market in the country is showing signs of improvement.
"It is now beginning to look encouraging. We have gone through some very difficult times as you know," he said.
"Investors are coming in and they are buying nice homes. There are some investments they are doing on the Family Islands.
"It is very promising. The economy, I think, has turned the coin."
The real estate veteran noted that quite a few investors have been coming out of South America and there are a few coming out of Europe.
But he said the bulk of the activity is coming out the United States. "There are also a couple of Canadians looking for investments here," Christie added.
"Overall, it is coming back. The economy is getting better and I don't think this is going to be a hiccup. It is going to continue for a while unless something unforeseen happens."

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FOCOL reports net income increase mulls entering power generation sector

April 19, 2017

FOCOL Holdings Limited reported having a "transformational" 2016 at its annual general meeting (AGM) last month, with the company's net income increasing 51.7 percent from $20.5 million in 2015 to $31.1 million in 2016.
With larger profits being recognized, FOCOL President and CEO Anthony Robinson suggested in a FOCOL press release that in the near future the company might consider exploring alternative power generation models like solar and natural gas. The company might even consider entering the power generation sector, Robinson suggested.
"So we are just trying to solidify our current base and use the profitability that the company now enjoys to pivot into where we see the market going in the next ten, 15, 20 years," he said.
FOCOL Chairman Sir Franklyn Wilson in the company's annual report attributed the bottom line increase to directors' and management's "commitment to certain strategies and capital investment plans".
"FOCOL's improved financial performance in 2016 is directly related to the manner in which these strategies have been executed and capital investment plans implemented," said Wilson.
FOCOL held its AGM at SuperClubs Breezes Resort on March 30, where Robinson heralded 2016 as "transformational" for the company, which went public 17 years ago.
According to the annual report, FOCOL was able to increase its dividend payments from 22 cents in 2015 to 29 cents last year.
The company's press release on the AGM points to its work post-Hurricane Matthew as "the most intriguing revelation of the meeting". FOCOL repaired the fuel import berth at Clifton Pier following the hurricane.
While the company was under no obligation to repair the berth, Robinson and Wilson said, at the AGM the company took on the task, which should have fallen to Bahamas Power and Light.
"The group performed a little-promoted rescue of truly national import, which averted a further devastating blow to the Bahamian economy and the quality of life during a time when the residents were fearing the worst," the release stated.
"The fuel import berth at Clifton Pier sustained damages during the storm that threatened to impair BPL's near-term capacity to import fuel. Sir Franklyn outlined the grave implications of this threat on the quality of life for residents and its harm to commerce and the national economy."
Wilson added: "Into the breach stepped the management of FOCOL. It was owing to the skilled team of engineers and technical professionals at FOCOL that the impending disaster was averted."
FOCOL also donated more than $250,000.00 in 2015 and 2016 to help communities throughout The Bahamas hardest hit by hurricanes.

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BTC sponsors carnival and bands with 1.8 million

April 19, 2017

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), with only two weeks before Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, yesterday formally sponsored the carnival to the tune of $1 million in cash and kind, and took an extra bold step by sponsoring five bands over three years at $800,000.
BTC CEO Leon Williams made the presentation to the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) and the carnival bands yesterday afternoon at BTC's headquarters.
Now, not only is BTC the title partner for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, but Bahamas Masqueraders, Enigma Bahamas, Reckless Pirates, Euphoria Madness and Xtasy Bahamas are expected to be funded about $50,000 per year for the next three years.
For the first year of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, carnival groups were given seed money by the BNFC to start their carnival bands. Last year the BNFC gave the bands nothing, though they continously asked for support for the second year. This year BTC has stepped in to fill that void for five of the 21 bands.
"Whenever BTC adopts a cause, we get involved from start to finish," said Williams in a BTC press release.
"Three years ago, we believed Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival possessed the right mix to become a successful annual event. In the initial stage, we took a huge step of faith, at a time when no one else would sponsor the event and invested $1 million. Three years later and we are still supporting the Bahamas National Festival Commission in its efforts.
"This year we've now invested $800,000 directly into the groups. We know that this will make for an exciting Road Fever Parade."
The band owners all expressed their gratitude for BTC's assistance.
Williams added that BTC has also pumped thousands of dollars into technical infrastructure to ensure that the Cultural Village will be accessible to all Bahamians - even the ones who do not attend the carnival's concerts. He revealed that Bahamians will be able to watch the concert series at the Cultural Village live on their smartphones through the company's free Flow TV application.
"We want our customers and patrons of the event to be able to share every moment without interruptions and as such we continue to upgrade and advance our equipment at the festival site," he said.
"This year I'm proud to state that residents that are not able to attend the actual event will be able to share in the moment through BTC TV live on Flow TV."

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Aliv responds to 'fake news' article concerning Aliv's subscriber numbers

April 19, 2017

Telecoms company Aliv has responded to what it refers to as a "fake news" article published by Bahamas Press on April 11 entitled "Information in bond offering at Aliv confirmed mobile subscribers with the company were not at 45,000 but actually 27,000. Why did Blackburn lie?". Aliv said in a press release it is putting those responsible for the Bahamas Press or other associated entities on notice that it will tolerate no further activity of this nature.
"Aliv can confirm that, as at March 31, 2017, 57,415 mobile subscribers were enjoying the Aliv difference on its world-class LTE networks, and growth of its customer base continues at a rapid pace. Our corporate governance processes ensure that reports of subscriber numbers made to the board, shareholders, bondholders, and the public of The Bahamas are accurate."
Franklyn Butler II, Aliv chairman, stated, "We at Aliv focus all of our time and energy on delivering the best possible value, experience and service to fulfil the mandate that we have been given by the government of The Bahamas to bring better choice, value and world-class technology to the people of The Bahamas, because they deserve it. Aliv refutes in the strongest possible terms the allegation made by Bahamas Press."
Aliv has built a 100 percent Bahamian-owned business for everyone in The Bahamas to enjoy and has created over 250 Bahamian jobs since last summer.
"This latest article is one step too far and is a clear attempt to distract and confuse the people of The Bahamas from the fact that Aliv is now delivering excellent consumer choice for the first time ever in the mobile market," notes the press release. "From now on, and to be clear, Aliv will take every avenue available to ensure that the 'fake news' published by Bahamas Press is addressed and exposed for what it is."

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New airlift to Bimini from West Palm Beach and Tampa

April 19, 2017

NORTH BIMINI -- Resorts World Bimini, a sprawling 750-acre luxury beachfront resort, casino and marina on North Bimini, in partnership with Silver Airways, is pleased to announce new non-stop service from West Palm Beach to Bimini, as well as direct flight service from Tampa. Both flights are slated to launch on April 20, 2017.
To celebrate the new routes, Resorts World Bimini is offering a $100 resort credit to any guest who arrives on either flight. Upon check-in, guests simply show their boarding pass from their arrival flight to receive the credit, which can be used at any of the on-property restaurants, retail outlets, or toward a treatment at the Serenity Spa & Salon. This offer will be valid starting with the inaugural flight and all subsequent flights through May 25, 2017.
The new flights will be available four days a week, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving in Bimini at 9:40 am. The one-hour return flight to Palm Beach International Airport departs Bimini at 12:10 pm, arriving at 1:10 pm, and from there offers two connecting flights in to Tampa International Airport. This marks the first time West Palm Beach residents can travel directly to Resorts World Bimini, without the added travel time to Fort Lauderdale or Miami airports, and Tampa residents can also now enjoy a convenient, direct flight to Bimini for the first time.
"These new flights make it such an easy trip from Palm Beach and Tampa to Bimini, but once here it feels a world away. These routes will have our guests on the beach and in a vacation mindset well before noon," says Ed Farrell, president of Resorts World Bimini. "Just 50 miles from Florida's coast, our spa, casino, beaches, pools and, of course, rooms and suites are now more accessible and affordable than ever, and as a result we look forward to welcoming new visitors to explore and experience our property and the island."
As the closest Caribbean island to the United States, Bimini is known as Ernest Hemingway's favorite escape, and has long lured visitors with miles of pristine beaches and some of the finest diving and fishing in the world.
Resorts World Bimini offers the perfect home base for island adventures in Bimini, featuring a collection of colorful villas in addition to a newly opened Hilton hotel with 300 guest rooms, 18 luxury suites, six restaurants, a lagoon pool with swim-up bar, a Vegas-style casino, the Serenity Spa & Salon, and a rooftop infinity pool boasting panoramic views of the island. Families and couples alike can also enjoy endless watersports at Paradise Beach, or embark on fishing and diving excursions with on-site tour operator, Bimini Undersea.

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Baha Mar Celebrates Founding Associates with "LEAVE YOUR MARK" Celebration

April 19, 2017

Baha Mar continued its opening week celebrations with the “Leave Your Mark” ceremony held yesterday. All associates were invited to celebrate their dedication and contribution towards the opening of Baha Mar...

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Bahamas Striping Completes First International Project in Turks and Caicos
Bahamas Striping Completes First International Project in Turks and Caicos

April 19, 2017

Bahamas Striping received tremendous validation of its work after securing and successfully completing its first regional assignment, a five-figure contract to mark seven miles of roads in Turks and Caicos..

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BTC hosts monthly business mixer
"BTC hosts monthly business mixer"

April 19, 2017

BTC held its monthly power mixer event with its business customers last Friday. At the event, the business team treated clients to a sneak peak of new products and services...

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BTC gives to Gentleman's Club's Scholarship Purse
"BTC gives to Gentleman's Club's Scholarship Purse"

April 19, 2017

For years, BTC has supported the Gentleman’s Club. This year, the company again provided funding for its scholarship program...

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Paul McWeeney Appointed President of Sunshine
Paul McWeeney Appointed President of Sunshine

April 19, 2017

We are pleased to advise that the board of Directors of Sunshine Insurance (Agents & Brokers) Ltd., has approved the appointment of Paul J.I. McWeeney to the Presidency of the Company. On April 3, 2017 he begins his first day in the role...

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Healthy Launch for Purity Organic at Club One Fitness Centre

April 19, 2017

Purity Organic launched its all natural, not from concentrate line of organic fruit and veggie “Superjuices” and juice blends this past weekend at Club One Fitness centre during a special ‘Healthy Happy Hour’. Gym members and their guests were treated to cool samples...

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Govt launches request for proposals process to fix Nassau's dump

April 19, 2017

The government has officially launched the request for proposals (RFP) process in an effort to facilitate the remediation and operation of the New Providence Landfill.
The deadline for applicants is April 26, 2017 and an opening of proposals will take place at the Ministry of Finance the following day.
Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett promised earlier this month that details of the RFP would be made public on the government's website.
The minister also announced this month that the preliminary cost of remediation at the landfill is about $20 million to $30 million, but that amount is expected to increase.
A notice on the RFP outlined the process by which proponents are advised to submit their proposals.
One requirement includes a non-refundable fee of $10,000 with the submission of the registration form.
Interested investors are also expected to sign and return a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) said in its recently released Charter 2017, it will ensure that issues at the landfill are remediated by working with a strategic partner and "using scientific methods".
Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government is "very close" to choosing a company to run the site.
Fires have been occurring at the landfill for years. The reasons given are usually spontaneous combustion or arson.
Both the PLP and Free National Movement (FNM) have admitted fault for the "mismanagement" of the dump.
The environment minister previously explained that new technology and facilities would be included at the dump site and would all be a part of the new agreement made with the prospective management company.
New technology and facilities are expected to include membrane landfill liner to generate solar energy, gas extraction technology, and a new materials recycling facility.

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Baha Mar buzzing with activity, with full staff quota reached

April 19, 2017

Baha Mar has reached its soft-opening quota of 1,500 staff members ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, according to Senior Vice President of Administration and External Affairs at Baha Mar Robert "Sandy" Sands. More than 100 trainers "from around the world" are at the property preparing the property and staff for opening day, a Baha Mar press release issued yesterday revealed.
With opening day now just one day away, the release revealed that the "excitement is building" while finishing touches are being made to the guest rooms before the ceremonial ribbon that will officially invite visitors to experience Baha Mar is cut.
"There are currently more than 100 trainers from around the world on the property working with various teams to ensure every aspect of the Baha Mar guest experience is extraordinary," the release said.
"From the final stages of dealer training in the casino to finishing touches on the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar guest rooms, the resort is in its last phase of preparations before opening its doors on April 21."
Guardian Business revealed yesterday that Baha Mar is treating its staff to five days of activities in the lead-up to Friday's opening.
On Monday the resort threw a pool and beach party for its staff and their family to experience the facilities before guests begin to saunter in.
"Baha Mar is commemorating this historic week with celebrations in honor of the resort's 1,500 founding associates and their dedication, determination and passion for Baha Mar," the press release said.
"The opening week kicked off Monday with 'Baha Mar Splash', a pool and beach barbecue for all associates at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar resort pools and beachfront. Associates were treated to poolside grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, snacks, beverages and more, as well as music by DJ Shaggy."
President of Baha Mar Graeme Davis said in the release that this week is all about "celebrating the Baha Mar associates in anticipation of our first guests".
"In two days Baha Mar will open its doors, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our associates," he said.
The $4.2 billion mega resort complex has had a tepid past, mired with construction stalls, a liquidation and a lengthy process to find a buyer. But its executives and prospective new owner, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, tout the development as "poised to elevate the island vacation experience and pioneer the next generation of great destination resorts".
According to the release, the "strategic" phase one opening Friday will include a preview of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Baha Mar Casino, Baha Mar Arts & Convention Center, Baha Mar's Royal Blue Golf Club, more than 12 indoor and outdoor restaurants and bars, the resort pool areas and beachfront and the dramatic fountain shows choreographed with music, film and light.

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BPL ready to grid-tie residential customers who produce renewable energy

April 19, 2017

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) issued a press release Monday revealing that the company is beginning in earnest, its grid tying of residential customers with standalone solar and wind generation systems. But at least one customer who supplements his power supply with renewable energy was not completely satisfied with BPL's plans.
BPL said it was ready to fully roll out its Small Scale Renewable Generation (SSRG) program for residential customers in New Providence and the Family Islands by inviting customers to apply for grid interconnection.
BPL and the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) worked tirelessly over many months to create the framework for and implement the first stage of tying-in privately generated energy to BPL's grid.
"As the country's premier utility provider, BPL recognizes the inherent value of allowing its customers greater autonomy in controlling individual energy costs as well as increasing energy availability in the country," BPL's release said.
"The Small Scale Renewable Generation Program serves as an essential first phase in BPL's plan to incorporate renewables in its generation mix, and to serve as a key partner in reducing the country's overall carbon footprint."
However, outspoken renewable energy proponent, Graham Weatherford, whose offices and home are tied into a mixture of wind and solar renewable energy systems, said he is not satisfied with the amount that home owners will be receiving during net metering - when systems send excess power back into BPL's grid. Customers will be paid back the amount of BPL's fuel surcharge per kilowatt hour. However, Weatherford said BPL's customers should also be paid an extra 20 cents as compensation for their generation equipment.
Weatherford also added that he does not want to have to have BPL's digital meter installed in order to be grid-tied. And while BPL will require customers' systems to meet certain specifications, Weatherford insisted that his systems are certainly compliant.
As of yesterday customers in New Providence and the Family Islands were able to apply for grid interconnectivity at any BPL office, according to the company's release. The release also revealed that those customers will be served on a first come, first served basis. The reason for this is because BPL is allowing only a certain amount of megawatts connected to the grid.
BPL's Chief Executive Officer Pamela Hill said in the release: "This is an important milestone for the company, as it actively supports our core objectives of providing reliable energy at affordable rates, improving customer experiences and making greater use of renewables."
"Customers can provide a portion of their own energy while also increasing energy availability on our network. We see this as a win-win for all."

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Mobile number portability Tuesday

April 19, 2017

With mobile number portability (MNP) expected to come on board next week Tuesday, the telecoms regulator is "confident" that consumers will experience this milestone on the new launch date. And to ensure this, a significant amount of testing is currently being performed.
Director of Policy and Regulation at the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) Stephen Bereaux told Guardian Business yesterday that "hiccups" were experienced during the inter-operating testing phase for MNP.
However, he asserted that both BeAliv Ltd. and Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) are working hard to have service available.
"Neither system is working at 100 percent. In each case, some ports would fail or some call scenarios would fail or different things would fail because of adjustments in systems that have to happen," said Bereaux.
Testing started earlier this month and continues to occur until the launch date. Bereaux noted that the testing process is "very long" but assured that there would be no more delays for MNP.
Leading up to the launch date, Bereaux said that members of URCA will be visiting Aliv and BTC this week to ensure that people at their stores have been trained properly to do the porting.
MNP, the process that
allows consumers to change service providers without having to change their telephone number, was delayed in February until this month. The delay was implemented on the advice provided by an independent UK consultancy firm.
The advisor held both BeAliv Ltd. and BTC responsible for not being able to execute the service as originally planned for February 14, 2017. URCA pitched in to say that both mobile operators had "appeared to have neglected" the required progress needed.
But Bereaux's tone has since changed and he expressed more optimism on the matter.
"Everything hopefully is on track, and we are not worried about it," he said.
"The advertising has started last week. We wouldn't have advertised it if we didn't think it wouldn't happen."

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BTC salutes 'high flyers' in customer service

April 19, 2017

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco - As Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) continues to transform to meet the ever changing communications needs of its customers across The Bahamas, the company has continued to attract the best and brightest from communities across The Bahamas as well. BTC's Northern Bahamas team is filled with competent, friendly and hard-working individuals or "high flyers" who continue to provide top-notch services to its many customers and as a company it continues to seek new ways to honor and celebrate their work.
One such individual is Priscilla Dawkins, who has been a dedicated and passionate employee of BTC for more than two decades and currently serves as the customer service supervisor for BTC's retail store in Marsh Harbour Abaco. Over the course of her 25-year career with the company, Dawkins has served in multiple departments; from overseas to sales, customer service and the cashiers department. Now she is renowned as a customer service expert in all areas of the retail space, having worked on every cay in Abaco.
True to BTC's mandate to connect customers on every island, rock and cay, Priscilla is well known to BTC's customer base on Abaco and is dedicated to customizing plans to fit the personal needs and budget of every individual, all while donning her signature smile. With years of on-the-job experience she has made a name for herself as the go-to person for questions and queries within the Abaco enterprise and is constantly designing solutions geared at building long-lasting relationships with both business and residential clients.
BTC's high flyers make it their mission to exceed the expectations of all its clients and Dawkins is not different. Her out of the box approach to customer service has made quite the impact on the quality of service and the customer experience.

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